Project Brief

This project aims to hybridize theories and practices from mobile architecture, urban data mining and level design’s narrative articulation. Information technology combined with cities’ infrastructure and architecture as well as the concepts of ‘real-time city’, are framed as a parasitic narrative in this project. We will work within a multiform sequential story telling unfolding the bottom up evolutionary models to aggregate living units in the city of Edinburgh. The importance of addressing the spatial turn of the digital paradigm and the critical assessment of the existing data practices is highlighted within this project through ‘(re)coding’ the system of temporary habitation spaces.

In this project the concept of ‘open source architecture’ introduce by Carlo Ratti will be examined. Agent based system models (ABS) will be introduced in which agents are mobile and move between locations. The city of Edinburgh as a system in time rather than the system in place will be explored through this project.


This design challenge is a provocation for mobile architecture acknowledging mobility and migration in the contemporary urban settings. We will be working on developing a design system using behavioral data for siting living/habitation units.

In this project we will investigate the concept of mobile living units through two stages:

  1. Data analytics; in this stage, we will discuss the local data intensity by individuals and citizens. We will choreograph scenarios for reading people’s hidden footprints through their online media feed i.e. social media platforms and location based applications. By streaming and extracting the online activities, we will produce layers of information on the map which are rich in revealing which parts of the city is loaded with data from individuals within a specific time frame. This data is consisting of the photos, check-ins, stories and hashtags from the individuals roaming the city of Edinburgh. Simultaneously, you are encouraged to self-represent yourselves as data feeds using the go-pro camera to navigate the city and detect potential sites for the living units to assemble. This stage provides us with  data loaded map layers including potential gap-sites and the online streamed data.
  2. Design; In the second stage, we will design a game-based narrative in which we will not only design the living units/pods, but also, we define how they assemble in the detected/suggested sites we discovered in the previous exercise. You need to provide mood boards, story boards and design level instructions for your game and specify these three:

a. [The narrative]; define the system by which these units are activated and moving in the current urban setting and the levels’ instructions by which you want to communicate your narrative with your audience.

b. [The scaffold] for the units and the system of assemblage (preferably flexible for each site location); you need to briefly address the geometry, scale and general appearance of the pods as well as how they are assembled and disassembled as a united system in each gap-site.

c. [The Installation]; design the final representation of your work including the space and equipments you need i.e. VR, AR, monitors, etc. as well as how you want the audience to interact with your project.

Design team and grouping:

This project is open to all students from design and programming backgrounds. Considering the work load, each group will require minimum of 4 and maximum of 6 members. Each group will need students with these skills:

  • [Programming and data mining]; we will be extracting local data (images and hashtags) from social media APIs and we will map the data on the map of Edinburgh. This task can be also interactive and designed to interact with different data sources from different platforms in real-time.
  • [3D designing, architecture and design informatics]; we will be designing mobile units and defining their scaffold, scale and system of mobility
  • [game programming and game designing]; we will be defining a narrative based on the data mining, mapping and the living units’ system of design and mobility. Processing, unity and unreal engine are suggested for this purpose. One of the most suggested narratives to work with is the student accommodation in Edinburgh which is very relevant to us all as part of the university community.

Learning and practical outcomes

  • Creative collaboration between various disciplines.
  • Combine qualitative and quantitative research methodologies.
  • Produce professional documentation of work, suitable for presentation beyond University.
  • Develop ways to think critically about immersive experience within an existing reality
  • Develop creative ways to collect and (re)-present behavioral data.
  • Expand generative representations of data practices in multiple media formats
  • Develop your own narratives (diaries) and critical thinking and integrate them into a collaborative installation.
  • Engage in a broader discourse on design, story telling, society, urban data, mobility and place.
  • Develop skills complementary to the course such as technical, social, aesthetic and professional.
  • Create an interactive platform for communicating the project with audience

Potential competition entries relevant to this field: (optional)

These three are relevant competitions suggested for you to target during or after the DMSP project. Submitting to competitions are very inspiring and a very good way to communicate design ideas globally.


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